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Dr Sarah Wall

Senior Lecturer

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School of Education
Areas of Expertise:
Education and teaching
Research Supervision:
Courses taught:

For twenty years, Sarah worked in a variety of educational settings, including mainstream and special provision, from nursery to post-16. 

[email protected]


Sarah’s career began as a Year 5 primary school teacher in Suffolk.  She later became a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) and Senior Teacher.  As a SENCo, she developed an interest in children and young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties.  Consequently, in Cumbria, she worked as a Specialist Teacher for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and, latterly, autism spectrum conditions (ASC).  In these roles, Sarah supported individual children, young people and their families, but also with a variety of settings delivering continuing professional development for school and local authority staff. 

Most recently, Sarah has lectured at the University of Northampton - mostly in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (SENI) - and at the University of Birmingham on their Distance Learning SEBD and Autism (Children’s) courses.  Whilst lecturing, she has worked with professionals from a variety of settings including: mainstream schools; special schools; pupil referral units; secure units; alternative provision and residential schools both here in the UK and Worldwide.

Research interests

  • Special Educational Needs and Disability
  • Inclusion
  • Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties/Mental Health (particularly attachment)
  • Communication and Interaction (particularly autism)

Sarah’s research interests lie in the areas of Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusion, specifically attachment and relationships.  Her PhD is entitled ‘The Attuned School’: the effects, and effectiveness, of developing relationships between pupils with attachment difficulties and significant adults.  Sarah’s research explored whole school approaches to supporting individuals with attachment needs.  She is also particularly interested in the cross-over in presenting behaviours between autism, pathological demand avoidance and attachment.  With the latter, she has conducted small-scale research working with teachers on the Coventry-Grid (Moran, 2010) assessment tool.

Areas of research supervision

  • Special Educational Needs and Disability
  • Inclusion
  • Communication and Interaction Needs
  • Social, Emotional and Mental Health/Behavioural Difficulties
  • PhD supervision in school provision for adolescent male mental health, profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), SEMH and ASC  


MA Education


  • PhD (‘The Attuned School’: the effects, and effectiveness, of developing relationships between pupils with attachment difficulties and significant adults) - University of Birmingham
  • PG Cert in Research – University of Birmingham
  • PG Cert in Working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum – University of Cumbria
  • MA in Education – Suffolk Anglia Polytechnic University
  • BA (Hons) with QTS – Lancaster University

Memberships, editorial boards

Fellow of the Higher Education Authority

Selected recent publications

PhD Research

Wall, S. (2021). ‘A little whisper in the ear’: how developing relationships between pupils with attachment difficulties and key adults can improve the former’s social, emotional and behavioural skills and support inclusion, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 26:4, 394-411, DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2021.1979322

Wall, S. (2017). The Attuned School: the effects, and effectiveness, of developing relationships between pupils with attachment difficulties and significant adults. The University of Birmingham.

Book sections

Wall, S. (2024). "Developing Effective Relationships" in Gibson, P., Morgan, R., & Brett, A. (2024). Primary Teacher Solutions: Ready Pedagogy and Inspirational Ideas (1st ed.). Routledge. DOI: 10.4324/9781003218098

Latest articles

Wall, S. (2024). Revitalising Education: Addressing the Curriculum Gap for Students with Social, Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Health Needs. Social Sciences, University of Birmingham.

Wall, S. (2023). Why term time holidays can be a lifeline for children with attachment difficulties. The Conversation.

Preston, S., Wall, S., and Wheeler, L. (2023).How can you support a neurodivergent employee who finds communication difficult? CMI Insights.

Recent presentations and conferences

Wall, S. Inaugural Conference on Disability and Inclusion. 9-10 December 2022. Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Preston, S., Wall, S., and Wheeler, L. Neurodiversity in the Workplace. 5 September 2022. CMI Insights.

Wall, S. The Attuned School: How Developing Relationships Between Pupils with Attachment Difficulties and Significant Adults Can Support Inclusion and Reduce Exclusion. ECER (European Conference on Educational Research), Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research? Bolzano, Italy. 3-7 September 2018. Berlin: ECER. 

Media experience

Teacher’s Talk Radio – The Friday Morning Break with Poppy Gibson. Associative Disability Discrimination. 15 December 2023.